Simplest way to roonify nDAC

Copying the NDX thread…

I’m running Roon on an old Mac Mini, I have the music on this machine, ripped to WAV by iTunes (the Mac Mini isn’t used for anything else).

I’ve connected the Mac to the nDAC using TOSLINK.

All works well enough but I have two questions:

  1. Is there a better way to connect to the nDAC using USB via a USB to SPDIF converter?

  2. Would it be better to host the Roon core and music on something else? I used the Mac because it was redundant having been replaced some years ago.
    I’m happy enough with the performance but am a little uncomfortable (from a security perspective) having something on my home network that’s running an outdated version of MacOS.

The simplest way would be to connect a Chromecast Audio (discontinued by Google, but still available online), using a Toslink to mini Toslink optical cable. Sound quality is very good, surprisingly good, in fact !


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Given that the nDAC only has S/PDIF based inputs you are somewhat limited to this digital format.
I would use the Mac Mini to run Roon Core - don’t worry about the macOS version, it is based on Linux and not Windows, so much less open to security issues, etc.
I would then look at a networked Roon Ready applicance with a S/PDIF output, such as an Allo board for the RPi (standard or Signature), DCS Bridge etc. these will provide a quality S/PDIF output into the nDAC.
I also believe that a XP5-XS, XPS or even 555 makes the nDAC a very capable DAC platform.


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A simple one box solution would be an Innuos Zen Mini, as it will run Roon and has an electrical SPDIF output.

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But then what use for the MacMini? Roon Core will run perfectly well on a Mac Mini in this scenario.
IMO no point buying another server-like product, better to getting the best quality signal into the nDAC

For £200 or so
Good looking case, get a good quality BNC-BNC cable (a Naim DC1 as a suggestion)
DietPi is straight forward to manage, and the Allo board has good output and see how it sounds.

Then you can also upgrade to the Signature board, separate the PSU with an Uptone UltraCap LPS 1 or 1.2 on the Signature side, and tweak away with silver DC cables.

Or go High-End with

But at $5k, this is more than just selling the nDAC and getting a NDX2 or even a ND5-XS2

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I would install Ropieee on it for the OS if it’s just for Roon usage. It’s written to run Roon only and it’s dead simple to maintain. The developer is also awesome and online at Roon forum all the time for support. Diet pi support is awful and it’s a pain to maintain it. They use this is in off the shelf endpoints now to as it’s so stable.

I can vouch for the Allo DigiOne, which Simon posted a photo of. SP/DIF output and it performs well.

Don’t know about Roon, but I run an RPi3B + AlloDigiSig + Cuinas Audio ISO-PS + Moode Audio software into my nDAC + XPS, and it does sound jolly fine!

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Still waiting for Allo to make the signature version of that case…

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Assuming Roon core is running elsewhere (e.g. your Mac Mini) then a used Bryston BDP1 makes a nice Roon endpoint and has BNC output. Usually quite a few for sale and they don’t go for that much. Bryston still actively support. If you go down that route, try and ensure seller provides machine already updated with latest firmware.

A few weeks on…

I purchased an Allo DigiOne Signature that I’ve installed today.

A bit of a false start when it didn’t boot the first time (or at least the ethernet didn’t start working by the time I plugged it in).

Cables everywhere at the moment (need a longer ethernet cable) but once I put that to one side it works well.

The instructions on configuration could be a little simpler, or possibly just a bit better written but everything worked as expected, it isn’t however a plug and play solution.

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Do not spend your money unnecessarily, try Audirvana on your Mac mini, you may find Audirvana sounds surprisingly pretty good with physical direct connection such as toslink or usb.

TOSLINK would be the only choice with the nDAC.

But since the question was how to best connect the Mac mini running Roon to the nDAC, I don’t think Audirvana helps does it? Isn’t it effectively an alternative to Roon?

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I find Audirvana sound better than Roon wrt toslink connection, but then it is my own opinion.
It is even better if you stream from MM+Audirvana -> USB -> USB Isolator (eg Gustard U12) -> Optical -> nDAC, that way you can stream up to 192/24 to your nDAC (if it can deal with 192/24 from Optical).

As already suggested, the Allo DigiOne Signature is a very straightforward and effective way to roonify an nDAC.

The only complaint that I have, is that it requires two power supplies and that the cable management is awkward.

In this respect, the design of the new USBridge Signature (based on an RPi compute module instead of a full-fledged RPi, also by Allo) is much better and I hope other manufacturers (and perhaps Allo themselves) will come out with similar solutions for transports with S/PDIF outputs.

By the way, Allo also manufacture a power supply that is designed to be used with the DigiOne Signature. It is calles Shanti. Again, I do not like its design (I find captured cables awkward) but it seems to work very well with the DigiOne Signature.

I power my Allo DS from a Cuinas Audio ISO-PS which is a twin +5V output Supercapacitor PSU. Non captive leads, but it does require a separate charger.

I am using UpTone Audio’s JS-2 (RPi side) and LPS-1.2 (clean side). This is probably overkill for the DigiOne Signature but that I hope that I will be able to use these PSUs for other devices as well.

It will be interesting to see if the new USBridge board can further improve the DigiOne Signature board. Even if this turns out not to be the case, the approach of developing dedicated audio boards driven by RPi compute modules is a very good one and I am tempted to try out the USBridge.

Since the supplied power supplies are rated at 6V (I think, will measure to check), and the battery supply option uses 4 AA cells, I wonder about using a couple of small lead-acid 6V batteries.

There is a lot of feedback on using different kinds of power supplies and batteries for the DigiOne Signature in the Allo forum at Audiophile Style. I have played a little bit around with different PSUs (albeit not with batteries) and eventually settled on the JS-2 + LPS-1.2 solution.

In this configuration, I have compared the DigiOne Signature to a few popular alternatives, including Sonore’s ultraRendu with Shiit Eitr and Mutec MC-3+ Smart Clock USB as USB to S/PDIF convertors. At a certain point I will probably borrow an NDX2 and compare it to the DigiOne Signature as a further proof of concept. Another interesting test would be to insert a Chord M Scaler between the DigiOne Signature and the nDAC.